Report by Ruth Joslyn
Looking into people’s eyes–that is what I find myself doing constantly since arriving in Haiti yesterday. What is their story? What have they had to do just to make it one more day? Is there anything that is “easy” in their life?
There were a lot of people I made eye contact with on the ride to the mission house. In the city, some people would look, smile and wave. Others made it very clear they did not want to be my photo opportunity. Still others just stared or motioned to me as if to say, “What are you going to do for me while you are here?” In the mountains, children were peeking through the bushes and popping up everywhere–especially in huts that you would not think are livable. They smiled, they waved, they sometimes would yell sweet greetings. It wasn’t just the eyes of people I saw–there were goats, dogs, and cattle roaming hither and yon. God’s landscaped handiwork is amazing! Inside the mission’s boundaries, I saw eyes of children I have seen in the many pictures I have viewed on this website, on Rocky’s school bulletin boards, and on the refrigerators of my friends back home who sponsor a child.
While eye contact is highly rated, especially because I am a teacher, it is not enough. Conversations can’t flow freely because I don’t know the language. I may never know their stories. I will never understand what their tiny little classrooms are like when filled to the max with precious students. I will never be able to grasp all there is to appreciate about these precious people called Haitians. What I do know is this: God loves them and meets their needs. He is the sovereign God and it is all about Him. I see Him in their eyes, and I hope they too can see beyond me and see Him.
What an exhilarating day it will be when we stand together and we glorify God in Heaven with one voice–no more struggles, no more pain. Our eyes will be fixed on Jesus!
Report by Elizabeth Johnson
Today was the first day of our Teachers Conference. Start time for the conference was 8 a.m.; luckily for us that really meant sometime around 9. We started our day in the mission house going over the materials we were planning to present to our fellow teachers, and shared time in Christ with a devotion led by brother Clint. We were ready with open hearts and a bit of apprehension as we headed across the courtyard to the church where the conference was being held.
One by one the teachers, mostly men, came into the church. The first thing that caught my attention was that most were dressed in suit and tie – quite the contrast with American teachers, who often take advantage of being out of the classroom to dress for comfort. This quickly put into perspective what a big deal this day was for them.
Before we began our presentations, door prizes were given. Much like children going through their stockings on Christmas morning, the recipients of the door prizes found joy in the smallest of things – rope, scissors, a ruler, suckers, a water bottle. The most exciting thing to see was each teacher going through the gift bags they were given upon registration. Materials that U.S. teachers find plentiful are a luxury to the Haitians. Markers, notepads, highlighters, note cards, crayons, and other items were provided in their welcome bags. I loved seeing their excitement, their smiles.
We divided into three groups to do our presentations. Our focus today was on Pair/Share (working together in groups, or academically strong student with a weaker student), KWL (what your student Knows, Wants to know, and what they Learned), and also Sequencing (timelines, storylines, patterning). Though the language barrier made discussion a little slow, and it wasn’t exactly easy to check for understanding, it was actually an accurate representation of learning for our students. We had to work a little harder, rephrase our explanations, and model our instructions . . . ALL OF WHICH ARE NECESSARY to be a successful teacher. The Haitians were very receptive and eager to learn new strategies. They asked questions, took notes, participated, and smiled at us encouragingly. I love that God provides each person across the world with the universal language of a SMILE. A smile goes a long way:)